From what I have read, the Tea Party was originally a kind of gimmick set up by some fat cat conservative Republicans to get the common folk stirred up against moderates and liberals, but whatever the truth of that it has taken on a life and meaning of its own. It ostensibly stands for every-day Americans who are just fed up with all the shenanigans and money-wasting schemes that come out of Washington, primarily, and state houses and other levels of government.
For the most part I have viewed what seems to come out of Tea Party rallies as unintelligible babble of uninformed people, mixed in with some legitimate gripes about government.
But a couple of things in the news in the past many days have made me angry enough, well almost enough, to join the ranks of the Tea Party. And actually, if I really knew more of what goes on in government I’d probably already be a member.
But here are the two things:
Anthony Weiner, the New York congressman who resigned under pressure after it was brought out that he spent much time emailing photos both depicting and explicitly displaying his private parts to various women, and perhaps sometimes unsolicited at that on their behalf, may be out of a job but thanks to a generous retirement program congress has given itself, taxpayers will eventually pay him some $1.2 million or more in pension benefits.
I have never understood how people on everything from city councils and county boards of supervisors (commissioners in some states, selectmen, whatever) get health care benefits and taxpayer-paid retirement from positions that are not even permanent employment, usually.
Okay, that was one.
The other is this story that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has or had a program called “Fast and Furious” by which they knowingly let firearms fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, ostensibly to be able to track down cartel members (I know it makes no sense or at least is not good sense). It has been reported that at least one U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed by one of those firearms. So far, Obama administration officials are not saying anything or not much, anyway, about this whole affair.
While I doubt this is the case, I heard one typical Fox News watching, right-wing, probably Tea Party type (but likely a non-voter), and gun-toting NRA member (likely) say that the purpose of the gun running scheme was to get more guns into Mexico so they would then be used in violence on our side of the border (in the ongoing drug wars) and thereby add fuel to the fire in an effort to “take away our guns”. Then again, who knows?
It Just upsets me that we spend tax dollars in such cockamamie schemes. Far too much money is wasted on fighting drugs. The more we try to fight the drug running the more we bid up that illicit trade. I am not an advocate of decriminalizing dangerous drugs, I just think we need to rearrange our priorities.
Government at all levels needs to reassess itself and go back to putting the priority into basic services and go from there.
And while I never get any traction on this, I still think almost all elected offices, from local to federal, should be non-salaried, with office holders receiving only stipends for public service.
There seems to be no evidence whatsoever that high salaries and generous benefits keep office holders from accepting outright or indirect bribes.
Money is the standard motivator in much of life, but I don’t think it is good to have it be that motivator for public service on the elected level.
Think I’ll brew myself a cup of tea, but I‘ll probably hold off on joining the party, just now.